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Theme Changer

 Topic: Headscarves and Haircuts

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  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     OP - May 20, 2017, 02:37 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I'm 22. I just finished 'Headscarves and Hymens' by Mona Altahawy and felt really inspired by her statement that 'the most subversive thing a woman can do is talk about her life as if it matters. It does.' So here I am, sharing something which happened to me yesterday.

    Yesterday I got my hair cut short without my father's permission. I have done so in the past but then found ways to hide it from him whilst at home, by putting it up, etc. because he's always been against short hair on women, saying that hair is a woman's beauty (that's also why it must be covered up in public according to him.) I decided I was tired of having such little autonomy over what grows out of my own head so yesterday I got the haircut and didn't hide it from him when he came home.

    The first thing he said when he came in was: "Why are you sitting there looking like a female jinn?" (I have curly hair, which I don't often wear out in front of him.) I said, "I'm not a jinn, I'm a human." Then he asked me if I had cut my hair. I said yes.

    I think my calmness and lack of apology for my 'error' made him twice as angry when he saw what I did. He threw things down, slammed doors, yelled and said that this was the beginning of something terribly wrong and that I had made myself "half bald" (my hair is shoulder length) and that I was on the road towards undressing in public.
    He said I have been influenced and got it into my head lately that I am somehow oppressed.

    I asked him if he was free to get his own haircuts as he pleased, and if he would have gotten so angry if my brother had gotten a haircut without asking him first. He replied that he was my father, that he was the head of the family and responsible for everything (including the hair on my head apparently) and there's a difference between cutting girls' hair and boys' hair. He asked me if I want to go around wearing shorts now, just because it's alright for boys to do. My mother then demanded to know "what else I plan to do now?"

    I did not have the courage to say: "Leave Islam altogether" but I did seize the opportunity to tell my family I don't want to wear hijab any more. My mother brought down an English translation of the Quran and stood next to me and told me to read out loud the verses about covering, etc to remind me of my religious obligations. (Useless in principle since I don't believe, but I couldn't tell them that.)

    I asked my father why he doesn't have a beard, and the answer was that he recognises having a beard is a good thing to do but beards are sunnah whereas hijab is fardh. My father said he was willing to compromise in that I could drape the scarf loosely around my head instead of wrapping it tightly, but there was no way he was going to allow me to uncover my head in public. He said that this is a slippery slope towards going sleeveless, towards wearing transparent clothes, etc, etc. I had gone in with the intention not to budge on uncovering my head, but he started crying (which he has never done in front of me) and talking about the deaths of his parents, and talking about how he has a chronic pain in his chest and he's been to see the doctor who thought it might be related to a stomach ulcer, but they don't know the precise cause of it yet. He said: "I do not have it in me to deal with this kind of shock any more; I will die from the stress of this one day so just stop." I did not know how to resist at that point. He is, after all, a product of what he has been brought to believe, and the harmful aspects of our culture have harmed him as well.

    He also started talking about his own pHD and my mother's educational credentials, (as well as mentioning his own father, who is Oxford-educated) and saying how could I just consider them all morons just because I have 'read one book' (The God Delusion... I told him I was having doubts after reading this book a while ago, but then rescinded and pretended that was just a phase, because he stopped sleeping after I voiced my doubts and I was worried about adversely affecting his health.) He keeps saying that if I just read the Quran properly with translation and tafseer I will find all the answers to all of my questions. And he really believes this.

    So anyway... I have compromised on wearing the scarf loosely for a while. I don't know what else to do. He loves me with an almost suffocating, protective love (both my parents do) and they have been so caring and generous in so many ways, but when it comes to religion and culture and related freedoms, I just feel so trapped because there is no way they will shift from their position. I haven't 'come out' to my family, therefore.

    I do dearly love my brother, and my brother is very supportive but I haven't even told him that I have completely stopped believing, because he is still a believer, so I don't want to put him in any difficult or painful position where he feels like has to choose between supporting me or obeying the family. Yesterday after the whole family drama, he came to see me in my room and said: "Trust me... Talk to me... Whatever doubts you're having, tell me about them instead of rebelling openly in front of our parents. Dad accused you of indecency and I was really scared about what could have happened and what lengths I might have had to go to protect you." [He meant he was worried the argument would reach a point where he'd have to step in physically in case Dad got violent... But I don't think Dad will get violent. It's more the emotional aspect which is making this so hard.]

    I told my brother that he shouldn't feel morally obligated to protect me (he did speak up for me yesterday and Dad yelled at him and called him an idiot) and that it's sad that society creates these situations where men are pressured to be physical protectors and defenders of women (why do women have to be in such weak positions in the first place)?

    Anyway... That was a long introductory post. Thank you so much for listening to me. It feels so good to know I am not alone. I am thinking of coming back and writing more posts on this thread in future as more conflicts arise - just like a diary. It feels so good to express myself in a safe space.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #1 - May 20, 2017, 03:34 PM

    Welcome  parrot hugs

    Been there, done that. You know your brother better than any of us but he may surprise you. Mines response was a simple "it's your choice". Now he even asks me questions about any doubts he has about Islam, such as whether or not jinns are real. It's always helpful to have family members who will back you up 100%.

    I know how hard it is to worry about hurting and disappointing your parents, but at the end of the day it's either that or you end up living a sad, double life. Realistically, what are your prospects of moving out? If you told your parents that you would be moving away for a short while (either for work or study), how would they react? Would they worry less if you pretended to be a "good" Muslim girl again and wore your hijab tight? Living away might give you the breather that you need and the confidence to tell your family the truth.

  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #2 - May 20, 2017, 04:13 PM

    Give yourself some time. Right now you are in the aftermath of an emotional moment and you need some space and perspective in order to plan properly. There are many here who have been in this situation and doubtless you will receive some good advice, but you know your circumstances best, and can make the best decision.
    It is your life, though. Not your parent's life.
    The standard and best formula for the young who leave the faith is to get your feet under you and make sure you can provide for your own self before you come out of the closet to family. Some of us need an escape plan, a place to go and stay in case our safety is threatened. It won't hurt to make such a plan, even if you are convinced it is not necessary. Caution doesn't usually hurt anyone.
    I am very glad you have experienced so much love and support from your family overall. Hold that love in your heart and let it sustain you.
    Welcome to the forum, we are glad to have you.   parrot

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #3 - May 20, 2017, 04:23 PM

    Thank you so much for the welcome. Smiley

    You're right - I guess my brother could surprise me later on. Do you mean in terms of losing faith as well? When we last discussed this issue, my brother said he had some doubts, but has now found ways to deal with them. When I was reading The God Delusion, I discussed that with him, and he basically responded with Pascal's wager. I don't want to try to 'convince' or 'de-religionize' him, without him wanting that for himself - because all of the conflicting feelings I'm experiencing right now are so painful and I wouldn't want to force that on another person, especially someone with parents like mine.

    Moving out is... a dream, unfortunately. I am a student right now but attend university in my home city. My father has made explicit that he wants me to look for a job in the same city once I graduate. I was naive enough to bring up my dream of working abroad to him once, and he said: "You can do all those things after you get married." And I felt my hopes crumble. To be honest, I don't think I ever want to marry anybody ever, but marriage is not even a potential route to more freedoms (as my father apparently wants me to see it), because he has made explicit that he would never allow me to find my own partner by way of "love affairs", and therefore I'm stuck with only very limited options. Of course my family would never consider a non-Muslim, but even marrying outside of ethnic group is hugely taboo in my household.

    In fact, recently dad actually told me he would like me to get married to my first cousin. This even surprised me because dad had never directly talked to me about marriage before this. (He won't force me to accept the proposal, and that cousin-marriage discussion is 'on hold' for now, after a lot of crying on my part, but there is still emotional pressure there: 'People will think you are having love affairs in England - you have no other reason to turn this down... / What will people say about me? They will spit that I have no leverage even with my own daughter... / I know the boy well, he is my nephew, that is why I would give you to him - I cannot just give to you any other stranger who comes along after this... / I never thought that I would have to beg my child to do something. Don't you trust me?" to give a few examples.)

    Working in a different city - just temporarily, if I got a placement at a particularly prestigious institution, for example - seemed like a possibility once... but I think that my parents would be extremely suspicious and unwilling to let me move away even for a short time, after recent events. Maybe, just maybe, the slim possibility of that temporary escape can be a goal I work towards in the coming years, though...

    As far as just being honest with them goes, it's the death and illness thing that really scares me. My mother has depression and religion is the only thing that really gives her comfort. What if I exacerbate her mental health issues by walking out? Same with my dad. They think hell is real (and also that the opinions of 'society' matter), so if in their old age they find out they have 'failed' their child and their child is going to hell, what psychological implications might that have? I would like to say that I don't need religion to live my life in a morally sound way, but I am scared I might not be able to say that about myself if I also destroy two other lives (maybe three, my brother's) in the process of claiming mine. (This is not intended as a judgement on anyone else - just sharing what's going through my own head about myself...)

    Are you in touch with family still, if you don't mind me asking?
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #4 - May 20, 2017, 04:29 PM

    Thank you Three. You are so right about the importance of being financially dependent and having an escape plan before coming out. For this reason I am sure I should keep quiet, at least for now. When I am more secure, then maybe I can think again about whether I ever want to tell my parents or not.

    I too feel very grateful that I have received a lot of love from my parents in certain aspects of life. I know that not everyone can say that their relationship with their parents has been generally positive, religion/culture aside. And that's why I wonder if I am being a cruel and ungrateful person if I am honest with them, and thus shatter their dreams about who I am. They are not evil people at all. But the religion and culture they want me to follow requires me to sacrifice so much. Hence a dilemma.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #5 - May 20, 2017, 06:47 PM

    Your concern exposes your own decency, but I assure you that you are yourself, and not a construct of someone else's expectations or perceptions.
    Many of us have lived our lives as others wished us to, and most of us feel oppressed by that,  but truly no one ages without regrets of some kind. I think living in itself creates regrets.
    I know that it feels as though it is your responsibility to take care of the emotions around you, but your responsibility is only to be empathetic- and you are.
    You will know what the right thing is to do when you feel you have more choices. Trust yourself to choose wisely.

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #6 - May 20, 2017, 07:13 PM

    Are you in touch with family still, if you don't mind me asking?


    Yes. Most of them already know that I'm no longer a believer but people like my dad don't need to know. As long as I can go on not wearing the hijab, not being forced to pray or fast or any of that, it doesn't really matter if he thinks I'm still a Muslim. My dad might be losing his eyesight and his marriage is ending, so I'm trying to keep as much additional stress and misery from him as possible. He will walk out of my life if I do something such as marry a non-Muslim though.

    But the bottom line is that while it is perfectly natural to want to keep your parents happy, you can't keep living for them. Even if you're not going to do anything drastic such as move out permanently now, it wouldn't hurt to plan ahead. Build up your skills in your home city and prepare yourself to land a good job in another city and town, even if that does take a few years. In the meantime it could help to lead a double life, as long as you do so with the view that this will be temporary. Be a dutiful daughter at home and let your parents see you wearing your hijab tight when you leave the house. Then do what you like once you are a significant distance away from the house; sometimes you have to for the sake of your sanity. If you feel that it would help, you could even be a part-time hijabi (taking it off when they're not around), that's how I started off. Hopefully your parents would soften up to the idea of you moving away temporarily for work once they see how "good" you have been behaving.

    The hardest part is probably the hijab. If only you could find a way to get your parents to be OK with you taking it off, things would get much easier afterwards. No one can monitor you 24/7 and make sure that you are praying and fasting, but the hijab is a much easier thing to monitor.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #7 - May 20, 2017, 08:04 PM

    "The hardest part is probably the hijab". This rings so true. I'm not sure a guy can understand what the hijab is for a Muslim woman, or an ex-Muslim for that matter. Even as a Muslim, the hijab can many times be a real burden and suffering. Even more so when you're no longer a believer. While I was still faking my "Muslimness", nothing was as hard for me as wearing the hijab. And I was a munaqqabah, and just the thought of not having to cover my face anymore was like a dream. While wearing the hijab/niqab, it was fully by my own will. That's why Muslim women who say they are not forced are telling the truth. It's the moment you no longer want to wear it, that you understand that your choice and free will is delusional. Even in those cases where you are "allowed" to take it off, you most often suffer from social pressure och emotional blackmail in different forms. Rarely, if ever at all, does a Muslim woman take off her hijab without any repercussions...

    "The healthiest people I know are those who are the first to label themselves fucked up." - three
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #8 - May 20, 2017, 09:14 PM

    @Cornflower exactly. That's why it's maddening when some people try to claim that the hijab liberates women. There is a reason why there is more emphasis on it when defining who is or isn't a good Muslim woman than anything else.

    OP, I'm not saying that you should try to deconvert your brother. Leaving Islam is difficult, so anyone who is happy being a Muslim is better off being left as they are. That's unless they hold views that are harmful to others. I don't want to deconvert my brother but it's nice that he is willing to listen to my views and take them seriously, rather than dismissing them as confusion or something equally patronising.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #9 - May 21, 2017, 02:27 AM

       People say you can’t live your life for you parents. However our parents have been doing that all the time and they grew up completely foreign to the idea that family members are separate human beings. They see us as literally their flesh and blood, and life. My mother would go mad when she finds out that I’ve had a haircut without her permission; she would look like she’s been physically hurt by that, and no Xainab, we don’t wear hijab. When I ask my mother what she wanted to do after retirement, she said “plan you wedding and babysit your children.” She sees her happiness as completely bound to other people which my therapist would strongly discourage, but when I tell her that she said “you are not other people.”

       I used to think if the time come that I choose to marry a non-Muslim, I would voluntarily disown myself to save them the dilemma of losing either me or their society, because with my world view I thought their society must be the more important one. Now I gradually see that it may not be so. They will be dragged along by my actions whether I want to cut the rope or not. It is the tragic making of the world, but you have to do what has to be done if you don’t want that on your next generation.

    Xainab I see that your family is not only well educated but also well versed in the religion. I would think that combination would mean it’s near impossible for them to accept you being different. I’m so sorry for that.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #10 - May 22, 2017, 08:27 PM

    Welcome  Smiley
    Your father wanna you to get married to your first cousin ? I thought it's not allowed under the state law and it's taboo in almost every society. May I know what's your ethnic background ?
     
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #11 - May 23, 2017, 03:34 PM

    Your concern exposes your own decency, but I assure you that you are yourself, and not a construct of someone else's expectations or perceptions.
    Many of us have lived our lives as others wished us to, and most of us feel oppressed by that,  but truly no one ages without regrets of some kind. I think living in itself creates regrets.
    I know that it feels as though it is your responsibility to take care of the emotions around you, but your responsibility is only to be empathetic- and you are.
    You will know what the right thing is to do when you feel you have more choices. Trust yourself to choose wisely.



    Thank you so much for your kind words. I guess it's difficult to feel decent, because I find myself thinking that if I was such a decent person, then I would be able to bear sacrifices for the people who have loved me and raised me from birth. I'm in close contact with another ex-Muslim, living in Pakistan, and when I asked him how he bears the suffocating nature of the double life, he told me that he thinks about how much pain he is saving his family by not being open with them. That made me feel really guilty.

    People in my course at university are frequently telling me what a nice person I am, but I once heard a tafseer explanation by Nouman Ali Khan which emphasised that the Quran puts so much stress on respecting parents/family because it's easy to appear 'kind' to the outside world and yet be horrible to your own kin behind closed doors. I know I'm not religious any more but I can see the logic in that idea, even if it's not logical to apply that concept directly onto my personal situation. I guess I'm just afraid it's going to turn out to be an accurate description of me, or that I am being selfish if I choose my own freedom. I don't want to hurt anybody, I just want to live freely, but it kills me that I will have to destroy other people's lives in order to do so.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #12 - May 23, 2017, 03:41 PM

    Yes. Most of them already know that I'm no longer a believer but people like my dad don't need to know. As long as I can go on not wearing the hijab, not being forced to pray or fast or any of that, it doesn't really matter if he thinks I'm still a Muslim. My dad might be losing his eyesight and his marriage is ending, so I'm trying to keep as much additional stress and misery from him as possible. He will walk out of my life if I do something such as marry a non-Muslim though.

    But the bottom line is that while it is perfectly natural to want to keep your parents happy, you can't keep living for them. Even if you're not going to do anything drastic such as move out permanently now, it wouldn't hurt to plan ahead. Build up your skills in your home city and prepare yourself to land a good job in another city and town, even if that does take a few years. In the meantime it could help to lead a double life, as long as you do so with the view that this will be temporary. Be a dutiful daughter at home and let your parents see you wearing your hijab tight when you leave the house. Then do what you like once you are a significant distance away from the house; sometimes you have to for the sake of your sanity. If you feel that it would help, you could even be a part-time hijabi (taking it off when they're not around), that's how I started off. Hopefully your parents would soften up to the idea of you moving away temporarily for work once they see how "good" you have been behaving.

    The hardest part is probably the hijab. If only you could find a way to get your parents to be OK with you taking it off, things would get much easier afterwards. No one can monitor you 24/7 and make sure that you are praying and fasting, but the hijab is a much easier thing to monitor.


    I definitely think I'm going to end up being a part-time hijabi. Smiley

    I am really sorry to hear that your dad is losing his eyesight and going through a difficult time. That's also why I worry about mine - I'm scared his health will deteriorate if I do anything now which hurts him or comes across as rebellious. He said to me: "You can do whatever you like after your mother and I are dead anyway." That really stung, and I feel disgusting because that comment has created a mindframe where I am thinking that my only option is to wait for my parents to die in order to be myself. That is absolutely horrific and makes me feel so guilty.

    I'm glad your family don't force you to pray or fast. Mine still make me pray in front of them from time to time to check I am doing it. I also have to read tasbih in front of them daily. I think I am going to water fast in Ramadan or just eat when I am out of the house (I guess in that respect, at least I am fortunate to be in a country where I am able to do that!), because openly not fasting in front of my family will create chaos.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #13 - May 23, 2017, 03:51 PM

    "The hardest part is probably the hijab". This rings so true. I'm not sure a guy can understand what the hijab is for a Muslim woman, or an ex-Muslim for that matter. Even as a Muslim, the hijab can many times be a real burden and suffering. Even more so when you're no longer a believer. While I was still faking my "Muslimness", nothing was as hard for me as wearing the hijab. And I was a munaqqabah, and just the thought of not having to cover my face anymore was like a dream. While wearing the hijab/niqab, it was fully by my own will. That's why Muslim women who say they are not forced are telling the truth. It's the moment you no longer want to wear it, that you understand that your choice and free will is delusional. Even in those cases where you are "allowed" to take it off, you most often suffer from social pressure och emotional blackmail in different forms. Rarely, if ever at all, does a Muslim woman take off her hijab without any repercussions...


    Exactly! I came across that idea in Mona Altahawy's book too, and I was literally nodding and saying: "Yes! Yes!" out loud because of how much I agreed with it! She talks about how she even wrote essays in school to defend her commitment to the headscarf when she was still wearing it. I related, because I had written such blog posts in the past, and also rejected advances from members of the opposite sex, whom I actually found attractive and wanted to be with, on the basis of the notions of 'modesty' to which I'd submitted. When hijab as a concept came under scrutiny I always tried to make myself feel better by emphasising this idea of choice: 'If a woman has a right to choose a miniskirt, surely I have a right to choose my headscarf.' But like Mona, I didn't realise at the time that my choice was not really made freely, because deep down I knew that my family would only ever allow me one of the two 'choices', but not the other! To be able to truly say I had made a 'free' choice, both options should have been equally acceptable and viable. But one of them is lauded and the other is taboo. So I chose - or rather, fell into - the easier one, with no repercussions from my family. The headscarf.

    Wearing hijab without believing or wanting to is stifling enough. I can only imagine what it must have been like to wear niqab in the same state of mind.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #14 - May 23, 2017, 03:55 PM

    OP, I'm not saying that you should try to deconvert your brother. Leaving Islam is difficult, so anyone who is happy being a Muslim is better off being left as they are. That's unless they hold views that are harmful to others. I don't want to deconvert my brother but it's nice that he is willing to listen to my views and take them seriously, rather than dismissing them as confusion or something equally patronising.


    Yeah, I agree. <3 I'm really happy you have that relationship with him. And thanks for that sharing that. I will definitely make an effort to be more open with mine, and see what comes out of it. I'm fortunate that he's not as judgemental as my parents. I can't imagine how I could possibly work up the courage to move out, not if I consider the fact that I'll rip my parents' hearts out in doing so, but maybe, just maybe, one day he might be my ally if things come to that. It does make me afraid of the repercussions for him, though, if I ever do something that drastic and he's seen to be 'sympathizer.'
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #15 - May 23, 2017, 04:08 PM

       People say you can’t live your life for you parents. However our parents have been doing that all the time and they grew up completely foreign to the idea that family members are separate human beings. They see us as literally their flesh and blood, and life. My mother would go mad when she finds out that I’ve had a haircut without her permission; she would look like she’s been physically hurt by that, and no Xainab, we don’t wear hijab. When I ask my mother what she wanted to do after retirement, she said “plan you wedding and babysit your children.” She sees her happiness as completely bound to other people which my therapist would strongly discourage, but when I tell her that she said “you are not other people.”

       I used to think if the time come that I choose to marry a non-Muslim, I would voluntarily disown myself to save them the dilemma of losing either me or their society, because with my world view I thought their society must be the more important one. Now I gradually see that it may not be so. They will be dragged along by my actions whether I want to cut the rope or not. It is the tragic making of the world, but you have to do what has to be done if you don’t want that on your next generation.

    Xainab I see that your family is not only well educated but also well versed in the religion. I would think that combination would mean it’s near impossible for them to accept you being different. I’m so sorry for that.


    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Pebble. I'm grateful that you understand. It's simultaneously relieving and sad to know that I'm not the only one who feels bound to her parents, and whose parents feel bound to her, in this way. You are so right when you say 'they will be dragged along by my actions whether I want to cut the rope or not.' That's the most terrifying thing for me, when it comes to contemplating walking away. I feel afraid that I would be doing the cowardly thing by going after my own happiness and leaving them to cope with the aftermath. After all, they grew up living for their parents too. My mother became a doctor "because her parents told her to." She married my father "because her parents told her to." My father went to work in England "because his father told him to." He talks proudly about he used to say to his father: "Your wish is my command." The fact that I want to reject such submission is incomprehensible to them. Is this what is meant by Western individualism vs Eastern collectivism?

    You mention: "doing what has to be done if you don't want that on your next generation." What do you feel that is - 'that which has to be done', I mean? There are a myriad reasons, but I think it's partly for fear of passing on my own misery to the next generation that I never want to have kids, at least absolutely not while my parents think I'm Muslim. (I don't know if they will ever stop thinking that... Depends if I ever reveal myself or not.) Because as long as they think I am Muslim, their demands regarding whom I must marry, what I must teach my kids, etc., will exist and they will expect me to conform to them. I might be able to live a double life for now but I could never expect my partner to do the same or my children to do so in front of their grandparents.

    Can you elaborate a bit more about your current situation? ie: Do your family know about you? Do you live with them? Are you still in touch with them?
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #16 - May 23, 2017, 04:12 PM

    Welcome  Smiley
    Your father wanna you to get married to your first cousin ? I thought it's not allowed under the state law and it's taboo in almost every society. May I know what's your ethnic background ?
     


    Thanks for the welcome Smiley It's not illegal in England or taboo in my ethnic background. I'm Pakistani.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #17 - May 23, 2017, 07:32 PM

    So you're British girl of Pakistani origin. How's the situation with Pakistani muslims in the UK ? Are they religious or moderate in general ?
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #18 - May 24, 2017, 09:05 AM

    Can you elaborate a bit more about your current situation?

    I’m afraid you won’t be able to relate much to my situation. Smiley I’m ethnic Central Asian and so my parents don’t practice much to begin with; faith is in their heart. They noticed that I’ve dropped the ‘additional’ practices I picked up as a suddenly-found-God teenager and leveled with theirs. I don’t how suspicious that looks. Anyway I’m now the most religiously knowledgeable person in the house now that my grandmother’s falling in to dementia, and my parents would look quite impressed when I answer their questions about Islam. I guess it never occur to them that knowledge doesn’t equal faith.

    What do you feel that is - 'that which has to be done', I mean?

    Distance. In my experience distance makes a lot of family problems subside, and soften many confrontations that would otherwise cause irretrievable damage. Parents will never stop loving you, but they will gradually accept the fact that their children are no longer in their control. Distance will put a halo around you make your parents more happy over your New Year post card, than they would be with a Taraweeh if you’re in the house. I’m not much older than you, I don’t know any other way to deal with an unbridgeable gap. But whatever you do, I would advise you to leave the house. Leave as early as possible. If you have to fight with your parents, make it about you moving out rather than they catching you on this site. I’m time zones away from my family btw, in Britain you don’t have to do that much.

    I think it's partly for fear of passing on my own misery to the next generation that I never want to have kids

    Me neither. I said that because I’ve found it to be the most effective argument to encourage other people to live their own lives. It would be a big blow to our parents to see that the world doesn’t play by their rules. Life do that to us all. I can understand that you don’t want to add to their misery even if you are not in the wrong. I think you will enjoy the film good bye lenin.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #19 - May 24, 2017, 11:04 AM

    Hey there, I'm in quite a similar position.

    I've hurt my parents in the past and even though it's been years since I did something I really regret, I still feel terrible about the event practically every day. So while my parents make me wear the hijab, I don't think I'd even mention wanting to take it off because of how much it would hurt them.

    Like you guys have been saying, I think a major problem is that parents (or some, at least), have this perception that they 'own' their children, so when we 'rebel' or don't follow their every command, they see it as a huge betrayal. I don't mean to speak for everyone when I say this- this is merely my personal experience.

    I think we've had quite similar experiences in that a lot of what you're saying your dad has said to you, has also been said to me by my dad. For example, if I'd say I want to go somewhere or do something on my own, he'd get really dramatic and say things like "I'm not dead" etc. I cut my hair quite short a few years ago too, and my mum didn't tell my dad about it but when she found out, she was really angry and upset too because I think she saw it as an act of rebellion against her? Idk. But her sister came over as well and said some horrible, racist things e.g. "next she'll be pregnant and have a black baby" and "she'll be going to the pub next", "don't be surprised at anything else she does now" and my mum called me a 'slag'. It was really hurtful because I just kept thinking to myself that it's literally just hair, and why is it such a big deal if it's shoulder length now.

    My parents also do the whole 'what will people say' and 'how can I go and sit with other people' etc because I'm such a disgraceful daughter who's brought dishonour to their name. I remember something I read a while back regarding South Asian women: 'brown women carry their children on their hips and the burden of their family's honour on their shoulders' which is even truer if you're Muslim or living in a Muslim family.

    This ended up quite a lot longer than I intended, but I hope it might make you feel as though you're not alone in this. Feel free to talk to me via dm if you want to discuss anything!

    xx
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #20 - May 24, 2017, 02:13 PM

    So you're British girl of Pakistani origin. How's the situation with Pakistani muslims in the UK ? Are they religious or moderate in general ?


    Different strokes for different folks. Smiley What do you mean by 'moderate?'
    What's your background, if you don't mind me asking as well? Smiley
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #21 - May 24, 2017, 02:24 PM

    Distance. In my experience distance makes a lot of family problems subside, and soften many confrontations that would otherwise cause irretrievable damage. Parents will never stop loving you, but they will gradually accept the fact that their children are no longer in their control. Distance will put a halo around you make your parents more happy over your New Year post card, than they would be with a Taraweeh if you’re in the house. I’m not much older than you, I don’t know any other way to deal with an unbridgeable gap. But whatever you do, I would advise you to leave the house. Leave as early as possible. If you have to fight with your parents, make it about you moving out rather than they catching you on this site.
    Me neither. I said that because I’ve found it to be the most effective argument to encourage other people to live their own lives. It would be a big blow to our parents to see that the world doesn’t play by their rules. Life do that to us all. I can understand that you don’t want to add to their misery even if you are not in the wrong. I think you will enjoy the film good bye lenin.



    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and situation, even if it is a little different to mine. It's always useful to hear different perspectives. I value your advice about moving about and I'll think deeply about that, but it makes a lot of sense. I think it will definitely be something I try to work towards, although it will be extremely difficult, because moving out before marriage is taboo in my culture (nobody else in my family has ever done it), and my father has explicitly made it clear that he doesn't want me to work in another city. I am pretty sure any attempt on my part to move out even temporarily will end up in a horrible fight and I'm not sure if the damage even from that would be repairable, but I should try to take things one day at a time for now.

    I will check out Goodbye Lenin! Thank you very much for the recommendation!
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #22 - May 24, 2017, 02:57 PM

    Hey there, I'm in quite a similar position.

    I've hurt my parents in the past and even though it's been years since I did something I really regret, I still feel terrible about the event practically every day. So while my parents make me wear the hijab, I don't think I'd even mention wanting to take it off because of how much it would hurt them.

    Like you guys have been saying, I think a major problem is that parents (or some, at least), have this perception that they 'own' their children, so when we 'rebel' or don't follow their every command, they see it as a huge betrayal. I don't mean to speak for everyone when I say this- this is merely my personal experience.

    I think we've had quite similar experiences in that a lot of what you're saying your dad has said to you, has also been said to me by my dad. For example, if I'd say I want to go somewhere or do something on my own, he'd get really dramatic and say things like "I'm not dead" etc. I cut my hair quite short a few years ago too, and my mum didn't tell my dad about it but when she found out, she was really angry and upset too because I think she saw it as an act of rebellion against her? Idk. But her sister came over as well and said some horrible, racist things e.g. "next she'll be pregnant and have a black baby" and "she'll be going to the pub next", "don't be surprised at anything else she does now" and my mum called me a 'slag'. It was really hurtful because I just kept thinking to myself that it's literally just hair, and why is it such a big deal if it's shoulder length now.

    My parents also do the whole 'what will people say' and 'how can I go and sit with other people' etc because I'm such a disgraceful daughter who's brought dishonour to their name. I remember something I read a while back regarding South Asian women: 'brown women carry their children on their hips and the burden of their family's honour on their shoulders' which is even truer if you're Muslim or living in a Muslim family.

    This ended up quite a lot longer than I intended, but I hope it might make you feel as though you're not alone in this. Feel free to talk to me via dm if you want to discuss anything!

    xx


    Great to hear from you, although our situations are far from great. I can completely relate re: parents seeing any form of disobedience as a huge betrayal.

    I'm very sorry that your aunt is not supportive, and is not making the situation between you and your parents any easier. I don't have any family close by apart from the immediate family I live with, and at times like these I'm very thankful that I don't, because pressure from immediate family is bad enough without other family members adding their comments and stirring up a scandal. I think the presence of other family members makes our dissent even more difficult for our parents to stomach, too, because they feel more embarrassed, ashamed and more likely to react in a way that 'saves face' if there are other family members witnessing our rebellion. It goes back to the whole "what will people say?" mentality.

    Ah, I'm glad you brought up the racism thing. Islam is theoretically supposed to be very open and racially inclusive, but in my experience of the South Asian community, not only is ethnic/racial intermarriage still depressingly taboo, but also the level of casual racism towards black people is appalling. It's something that I really detest about our culture. It is not fair that your mother spoke to you in such derogatory terms because you cut your hair; I completely agree that it's just hair.

    Thank you for sharing that quotation. It's so powerful, and heartbreakingly true. I guess we have to try and remember that even when our mothers do things like call us slags or force us to read Quranic verses about covering even if we don't want to cover, they are at the end of the day the victims of this patriarchal system that produced them. Sometimes they are not actively trying to hurt us, but they just don't realise the kind of toxic ideas they have been subjected to and which they are now passing on. I don't know how much comfort this is from day to day when they are trying to subject us to all that stuff, but I hope that acknowledging this will help us to empathise better and to respond from a place of strength and careful consideration.

    I really appreciate you writing here. It definitely helped me to feel less alone! The offer of a DM chat when you need also stands for you!




  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #23 - May 24, 2017, 04:15 PM

    Different strokes for different folks. Smiley What do you mean by 'moderate?'
    What's your background, if you don't mind me asking as well? Smiley

    I mean, do they practice often religion or not ?
    I'm Bosnian, never mind Smiley
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #24 - May 24, 2017, 06:38 PM

    Ah, okay. Nice to 'meet' you Smiley It really varies. Some are not that practicing. Some are very religious and religion is an extremely important part of every day for them. Most Muslims I know are practising to some extent, and my family's social circle are very religious.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #25 - May 24, 2017, 09:50 PM

    I'm Bosnian, never mind Smiley


    What's Bosnia like in terms of how people practice there?
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #26 - May 24, 2017, 10:50 PM

    Welcome to the forum Xainab, have a rabbit!  bunny

    Reading through your post, I can't help but see that your parents are engaging in some very classic manipulation. It is very courageous of you to communicate your desire with them so directly, and at the same time quite obvious that you really do care about them, with the fact that you could accede to such obvious manipulation.

    It's a tough road for ex-Muslims. My best wishes for both your freedom and your family.  far away hug

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #27 - May 25, 2017, 08:25 PM

    What's Bosnia like in terms of how people practice there?

    Fortunately, most people are not religious at all.
    About 90 % of women don't wear hijab but there are some villages where most people are salafi muslims but the government controls them.
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #28 - May 26, 2017, 08:24 PM

    Welcome to the forum Xainab, have a rabbit!  bunny

    Reading through your post, I can't help but see that your parents are engaging in some very classic manipulation. It is very courageous of you to communicate your desire with them so directly, and at the same time quite obvious that you really do care about them, with the fact that you could accede to such obvious manipulation.

    It's a tough road for ex-Muslims. My best wishes for both your freedom and your family.  far away hug


    Thank you so much for your welcome and wishes Asbie. Smiley I found it interesting that you said the manipulation is obvious. Can you elaborate on how?

    I'm working in a school atm and decided to talk to the school counsellor (non-Muslim) about this the other day, and ended up crying in front of her. She said it's difficult because I need to try and disentangle how much of my parents' reaction is an act of love and genuine fear for my soul (ie: them trying desperately to save their daughter from hell because they love her) and how much of it is the old-fashioned desire for control. When she heard about my dad's angry response to the haircut, his demands to know who gave me permission to cut my hair, etc, she said that sounded like control. When I told her how he cried afterwards, she said that was a good sign and it sounded like he was acting out of genuine love and fear.

    It's all a big mess really, but I think he is very afraid and doesn't know how to deal with it, so is responding in a way which is hurtful to both of us? The counsellor said I should keep showing him love so he can slowly get used to the idea that we can think/want different things without our relationship being destroyed. That doesn't mean he will ever be okay with me leaving religion or not wearing hijab, etc, etc, etc though. But it might help salvage our relationship just for the time being while I work out what to do. I have been making an effort to start conversation around the house and initiate hugs with him, etc even though the atmosphere is still really strained. What do you think?
  • Headscarves and Haircuts
     Reply #29 - May 27, 2017, 12:56 AM

    Your parents are adults, and they can help you in living your own fulfilling life if they want to. But they aren't. Instead they are playing the victim, and the health drama is older than the hills. I hate to be blunt, but anyone other than you can easily see it for what it is.

    I think that you need to build up your own options, and you'll be better able to decide what you want to do. Your counselor isn't wwrong with what she said, and I'm sure your father loves you in his own sense. Anyway, I think these situations can be tricky, and honestly as a man I feel a bit out of my depth to offer any advice beyond the limited amount I have. There are women here who have dealt with very similar family situations though, and I'd strongly suggest picking as many of their brains as you can.

    All the best.  Smiley

    how fuck works without shit??


    Let's Play Chess!

    harakaat, friend, RIP
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